How Government Affects Us All

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - November 01, 2006

Why should I care about politics?

There are the textbook answers, such as: “It’s your duty to vote,” “Men and women died to give you the right” and “If you don’t vote, you have nothing to complain about.” I find no disagreement with any of these reasons. However, I think the desire and motivation to vote is more basic. More visceral, if you will.

Whether you like it or not, politics touches every part of your life.

Government influences where you live. Governmental committees determine land use, property taxes are established and collected by government, the condition of your neighborhood’s roads are the government’s responsibility, and government regulates electricity and water. Government even has a hand in how and when you dispose of your trash.

Government influences your health. The federal Food and Drug Administration determines that drugs, which help someone in Lithuania, cannot help you. Health care access is detrimentally affected by malpractice insurance costs that are a byproduct of legislation and adjudication. Government can decide how much time off from work you can legally be entitled to if you are pregnant or sick.

Government influences your pocketbook. The most obvious is taxation. From Washington, D.C., to Beretania Street to Honolulu Hale, decisions made by elected officials determine how much of the money you earn can be kept by you. Congress is debating the permanence of tax cuts supported by the Bush administration. If there is a change in the majority in Congress, the future of tax relief will be in question.

The 2006 state Legislature boasts a $700 million plus budget surplus. Your state government did not create this wealth. Your state government takes it from you. Those whose time, toil, sweat and sacrifice earned it would best spend this money.

Your 2006 Honolulu City Council, by a vote of 7-2, raised the county General Excise Tax to 4.66 percent - this translates to $450 less per year per family of four. Again, it means less money in your pocket to do the things most important to you and yours.

There are countless examples of how government touches your life. These are but a few.

The point is that politics and politicians affect you, one way or another. Nov. 7 is Election Day. If you are registered, please vote. If you do not vote, then you have no reason to complain, and so you sit back and take what is given you. This representative democracy will fail if we don’t keep up with our end of the deal.

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